Experience the most important festival in Ethiopia on this special departure!
Ethiopia is home to a long and mystical past, written in the language of Ge’ez and the traditions of Coptic Christianity. But this ancient country also boasts a presentday plenitude of tribal cultures and lifestyles. Our journey takes us from animistic communities in southern Ethiopia, with their resplendent body decorations, textile work and austere lifestyles,and to the Amharic people of the north and their unique traditions of ancient Ethiopian Christianity.
We’ll travel across rolling savannahs, terraced landscapes, and winding mountain pathways. We’ll marvel at the sculpted rock churches of Lalibela, travel across Lake Chamo for invigorating bird- and crocodile-watching, and decipher histories of Egyptian Pharaohs, Muslim conquerors, and early Christian mystics on the muraled walls of island monasteries. At each night’s accommodations, we’ll be greeted by the region’s warm hospitality in the most picturesque of locations.
This trip takes place during the most important religious festival in Ethiopia. Crowds of revellers, all dressed in white, dance and sing in the streets to the beating of drums. Priests, decked out in jewel-encrusted velvet and satin robes, carry a replica of the Ark of the Covenant known as a Talbot in a grand procession through the streets. We'll enjoy these festivities in Lalibela, the best place to witness the 3-day festival and our special itinerary adds a day in Axum, reputed homeof the sacred Ark of the Covenant for the last 2400 years.
Walking, cultural touring
- An enthralling exploration of the deep history and diverse cultures and religions of the "Cradle of Mankind"
- Discover the unique and exotically beautiful Hamar, Bumi, Karo, Bena, Arbore and Mursi people
- Visit the monolithic rock-hewn churches of Lalibela and experience the wonderful Timkat Festival!
- Visit Axum, home to seven fabulous ancient monolithic stele, or stone obelisks, and the oldest city in Ethiopia
Duration: 15 days Start Location: Addis Ababa End Location: Addis AbabaDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Jan 8: Arrive in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Arrival in Addis Ababa and transfer to hotel.
Day 2 : Jan 9: Arba Minch
Fly south to Arba Minch in the Rift Valley, home of over 80 different ethnic groups. We’ll visit a Dorze village in the alpine highlands, where the people live in dome-shaped bamboo houses.
Day 3 : Jan 10: Lake Chamo
We take a boat ride on Lake Chamo, home to crocodiles and hippos, as well as waterbirds like Malacyte Kingfishers and the Great White Pelican.
Day 4 : Jan 11: Konso to Jinka
Today we head south through the tribal lands of the Konso, known for their animistic cults based around the breeding and veneration of serpents and for their eerie wooden totems placed over graves.
Day 5 : Jan 12: Omo Valley
Visit to dense bush territory of Mursi tribes. Continue driving south to trade village of Dimeka. Encounter with Ari, Hamar and Benna peoples, and overnight in Omo Valley.
Day 6 : Jan 13: Hamar settlement
After relaxing a bit from our bush experience, we take a walk to a very authentic nearby Hamar settlement
Day 7 : Jan 14: Turmi
Spend the day around Turmi, visiting the colorful Omotic tribes of the Hamar and Benna.
Day 8 : Jan 15: Langano Lake
We drive to the lake region of the Great Rift Valley and overnight along the shores of Lake Langano.
Day 9 : Jan 16: Langano to Addis to Bahir Dar
Relax at this lake resort with prolific birdlife until our afternoon drive to Addis Ababa where we board a flight to Bahir Dar.
Day 10 : Jan 17: Lake Tana
We explore Tissitat Falls and some Christian monasteries located on the many islands of Lake Tana.
Days 11 - 12 : Jan 18-19: Lalibela & the Timkat Festival
Short drive to Lalibela, a highland town renowned for its historic ,12th century rock-hewn churches.
Day 13 : Jan 20: Gondar
Visit the city of Gondar, a Portuguese-influenced, bygone cultural hub founded in the 17th century.
Day 14 : Jan 21: Axum
We visit the seven monolithic stele, or stone obelisks, of Axum, also said to be the home of the sacred Ark of the Covenant.
Day 15 : Jan 22: Depart Addis Ababa
Return flight to Addis Ababa, day rooms at your hotel, and farewell dinner. Evening transfer to airport for return flights home.
DATES: Best time to go: January Departures: No group departures scheduled. Private departures are available on the dates of your choice, pending availablity. Call us for details.
2013 Timkat Festival Trip
$5,295 (9-14 members)
Ghion HotelAddis Ababa
The Ghion Hotel offers 191 different types of newly refurnished rooms with baths and showers. Most of the rooms have balconies. All rooms have satellite TV, telephones and many have commanding views of the hotel's spacious, landscaped garden.
Swayne's HotelArba Minch, Ethiopia
Swaynes Hotel is located in Arba Minch which, in Amharic, means “forty springs”. The hotel enjoys a spectacular hilltop setting overlooking Rift Valley basin, with views of the forest of Netch Sar National Park, Lake Chamo, and Lake Abaya. The location makes an ideal base from which to explore, and is the gateway to the remote villages and unspoiled cultures of the magnificent Omo Valley.
Jinka Eco-LodgeJinka, Ethiopia
A new eco-lodge located on the outskirts of Jinka town across the Neri River, one of the tributaries to the great Omo River and near the Arie village, one of the main tribes of Jinka. The lodge offers horse back riding, trekking in the beautiful mountains surrounding Jinka, home-cooked meals from their own garden, plus eco-friendly tented cabins with great views.
Buska LodgeOmo Valley, Ethiopia
Situated in the heart of Southern Ethiopia in the Omo Valley, Buska Lodge is an unpretentious eco-lodge offering travelers the best accommodation and meal service in this region.
Buska Lodge overlooks the plains of Buska Mountain and has been constructed to blend beautifully in to the natural surroundings. Covering a total of 30,000 sq. meters area, the Lodge’s compound is a fascinating green area with about 120 species of plants.
Buska Lodge offers the rare opportunity to learn about and experience the culture and traditions of the local Hammer community offering a rare glimpse into the cultures of the Omo Valley. The Hammer are famous for their Evangadi dance and “Bull jumping” ceremony where a young man who wants to marry jumps over a line of bulls in order to show that he is worth to the pride’s family. The Hammer share traditions and rituals with surrounding people like the Tsemai, Ari, Karo, and Bena.
Tukul Village LodgeLalibela, Ethiopia Tukul Village is a new hotel with attractive views of Lalibela and its surroundings. It is within walking distance of many of the ancient churches, including the Church of St George.
Abay Minch LodgeBahar Dar, Ethiopia
Abay Minch Lodge is situated in the outskirts of Bahar Dar, close to Lake Tana. The rooms are in small bungalows and the garden is well kept and peaceful.
Sabana ResortLangano, Ethiopia
The best resort on the shores of Lake Langano. Bungalows are situated on a cliff top, each having their own distinctive view over the expansive Lake Langano with the Arsi Mountains in the background and are built with local materials and simple designs. Surrounded by green grass, acacia and palm trees, local flowers and a sandy beach area.
Kanta LodgeKonso, Ethiopia
A new eco-lodge with solar-heated water and Ethiopian style bungalows located on a hillside with lovely views.
Overlooking Axum’s exceptional northern Stelae field, and the Queen of Sheba’s bathing pool, the Yeha boasts the best location in Axum.
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
Expert leadership is the key to an exciting, unforgettable experience. Our trips feature gifted leaders for whom leading trips is a true vocation. Besides showing you wonders you'd never find on your own, they make sure everything runs smoothly and safely without a hitch. They are knowledgeable about all aspects of your trip, and take great pleasure in sharing their insights with you. More than just guides, they positively elevate your experience by being teachers, companions, and the best of friends. You'll be in good hands with them every step of the way.
Barbara Wagner was born in Germany and did her university studies at the Sorbonne in Paris and at the University of Pennsylvania. She has since been involved in international travel for most of her career with a focus on Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Barbara developed a number of tours for Mountain Travel Sobek including trips in Ethiopia, Yemen, Mali, Ghana, Togo and Benin. She speaks German, French and English fluently as well as some Urdu, Hindi and Arabic. Her passion for tribal and cultural travel helped her to define a unique niche for exotic travel to remote and often endangered tribal groups. Her guiding experience has taken her from the high Hindu Kush Mountains of Pakistan to the searing heat of the Sahara. Her knowledge and involvement with local cultures has gained her the respect of chiefs and leaders while providing her clients with exceptional travel experiences.